A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying   by Ernest J. Gaines

LessonDying

 

 

 

 

Set in the segregated south around, just before the civil rights movement, this book tells the story of a innocent young black man on death row. His godmother who raised him asks the school teacher, Grant Wiggins to visit Jefferson in jail and help him to gain self-respect.

During Jefferson’s trial, the defense lawyer referred to executing him as being like ” killing a hog.” Terribly afraid and alone in his cell, Jefferson can’t free his mind of this epithet. When people try to reach him, he says, “I’m just a hog. I ain’t human.”

At first unwillingly, Grant visits Jefferson in jail and tries to communicate with him. Just when it seems this is impossible, something changes.

This book forces us to confront the white mentality that would debase the black man even today if it could. One review called this book “an instant classic,” and though less well-known than Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, it is well worth the read.

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